Just before Thanksgiving, an expectant mom was rubbing her tummy enjoying the feeling of her unborn little girl’s butt pushing against her front. This joyful mom-to-be with a twinkle in her eye asked this counselor, “What if the Christmas wise men were women?”
I pleaded ignorance and she was quick to tell me, “They would have asked directions. They would have arrived on time, helped with the birth — and would have brought practical gifts.”
I chuckled and suggested that the practical gifts might be a carton of pampers, a baby rattle and a casserole. Much better, I thought, than frankincense, myrrh and gold, --or a check for that poor couple would be practical.
Another gift this expectant mom shared that would be nice would be a sleeper and some onesies. I was stumped. What’s are onesies? Expectant mothers know about onesies, but wise men are clueless. A onesie is a one piece outfit for a baby that snaps at the crotch.
Let me share that what this mother wanted most during her delivery was her husband at her side rubbing her arm. His touch of reassurance during the delivery was the most important gift that he could provide for his spouse. She wanted to be awake for the delivery and her female doctor was the kind of compassionate physician whom she had great faith and made her feel calm and comfortable.
The Christmas story has deeply rich meanings. It contains a profound theological message. It is this. Jesus was fully human. Some Christians blanch at the thought of Jesus in diapers, or Mary nursing her baby at her breast, or giving birth through her vagina. They would like to think that Jesus just popped out of the womb miraculously and never pooped in his swaddling clothes. That’s heresy, of course, Jesus was completely human — and so was his mother,
I like to focus on Mary’s story who has much to teach us. After all she was an unmarried pregnant teenager. There are many families who could relate to that. Then thirty-three years later the state executed her son as a criminal. Too many poor and minority women have experienced that inconsolable pain. Finally, tradition tells us she was a widow — another model for many.
This mother’s insights about the wise women also points to something extremely significant: more than two thousand years after Jesus’ birth many Christian churches still have not allowed women their rightful place at the altar. Just think of the tumult today in many churches about ordaining women or allowing them in pulpits. It’s a shame because women could help a pastor to be more efficient, compassionate and practical faith community.
It’s not only women, however, who can learn from Mary. We all can. She said, “yes” to uncertainty, to the unknown, knowing full well what her family and neighbors would think of a young girl pregnant and unmarried. And what would Joseph’s reaction be? The Jewish law at the time could have had her stoned to death.
At times we all wonder what others think of us and how they judge us. Most of us waste too much time and energy on that. What others think of us is none of our business. Too often it keeps us from saying, “yes” to what life and God is calling us to do – and nothing is impossible with God.
God watches over us as we pray: “May your mother and father rejoice, may she who gave you birth be joyful.” (Proverbs 23:25).
Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends who are expecting a child soon. May this new mother-to-be join Mary in rejoicing over her newborn child and keep all our children healthy and safe from harm.